The Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces in 2021

Avoid the need to tear out an old brick fireplace by giving it a fresh look with a new coat of paint.

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

best paint for brick fireplaces

Photo: lowes.com

A warm, crackling fire on a chilly night is timeless, but design trends change. If you’ve updated your furniture or room decor, a traditional brick fireplace might look outdated or out of place. Brick is also known for trapping soot and dirt, and it can also be susceptible to mold.

One solution is to remodel the fireplace area. However, this is time-consuming, messy, and usually involves considerable expense. Painting over the brickwork in an existing fireplace is not only quicker, easier, and less costly but it’s also highly customizable, giving you the chance to select a color or finish that works perfectly with the rest of the room.

Depending on preference, existing decor, and color schemes, choosing the best paint for a brick fireplace takes some doing. Here are some of the best options for sprucing up a hearth that’s seen better days.

  1. BEST OVERALL: The ONE Paint and Primer: Water Based House Paint
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Valspar Signature Flat Tintable Interior Paint 
  3. BEST PRIMER: KILZ 2 Interior or Exterior Water-Based Primer
  4. BEST MASONRY PAINT: Behr Crystal White Flat Masonry Paint
  5. BEST WHITEWASH: Giani Brick Transformations Whitewash Paint for Brick
  6. BEST CHALK PAINT: Rust-Oleum 285140 Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams Infinity Flat Paint 
best paint brick fireplace

Photo: pexels.com

What to Consider When Buying the Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces

Advice on how to choose the best paint for brick fireplaces does vary, largely because not all products are used in the same way. The following section looks at important considerations related to the way various types of paint perform, followed by some useful tips on how to paint a fireplace that will help ensure successful application.

Heat Resistance

Paint used on brick fireplace surrounds doesn’t need particularly high heat resistance, as the brickwork doesn’t get very hot. Interior latex paint has a heat-resistance of around 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfectly adequate. The same is true of masonry paint, where the concern is usually about withstanding low temperatures outdoors. It’s unclear what the specific heat resistance of chalk paint is, but it has been used successfully on fireplace surrounds many times.

It’s important to understand that these products are for painting the outside of the fireplace, not the inside. Painting the firebox itself requires a specialty high-temperature paint.

Sheen and Color

Sheen, sometimes referred to as gloss, describes the way the paint reflects light. Flat is the least glossy sheen, followed by matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss (or high-gloss) at the other end of the scale. Personal taste will have an impact on choice, but high-gloss finishes are not common on brickwork and, because of the surface texture, are difficult to achieve. Flat, matte, or eggshell are most common.

Color for a painted brick fireplace is also very much an individual decision. However, whatever your existing decor or decorative style, finding an appropriate color shouldn’t be a problem. Interior acrylics come in many colors, and white bases can usually be tinted. Chalk and masonry paint also come in a variety of colors.

Primer

Whether to use a primer or not is an interesting question and will depend on the desired effect. Some people like a translucent finish, where some of the original brick color shows through. The popular German Smear technique can also be achieved using chalk paint. In these cases a primer is unnecessary.

However, brick is very porous. If a solid color that completely hides the brick is required, even acrylics that include a primer seldom provide sufficient coverage in a single coat. There are two choices: either apply a second coat or use a primer first. In general, even the best primers are less expensive. Often they dry more quickly.

It isn’t only about depth of color, though. Primers are designed to bond to the brickwork, sealing the surface and providing superior adhesion for the top coat. Primers may also contain mold and stain blockers that help the painted fireplace look good for longer.

Tips on Prepping and Painting a Brick Fireplace

How to paint a brick fireplace is a subject Bob Vila has covered before. For your convenience, some of the key points are included here.

  • It may seem obvious, but this is normally a job for warmer months when fires aren’t being lit.
  • As with any painting, preparation is key. It’s likely that grime and soot have gotten into the structure of the brick, even if it’s not clearly visible. Clean the surface with soapy water and a stiff bristle brush. For visible soot deposits, use a half cup of trisodium phosphate (TSP) diluted in a gallon of water. TSP can irritate skin, so wear rubber gloves.
  • Allow brickwork to dry completely before applying paint or primer. After cleaning, it’s a good idea to allow it to dry overnight before painting.
  • Application of paint will to some extent depend on the desired finish. A number of decorative techniques are possible, so you may need to research how each is achieved. However, it’s important to follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions concerning drying and recoating times in order to produce a lasting finish.
  • Be careful to avoid cheap fireplace paints of unknown origin. They seldom prove satisfactory and could even compromise fireplace safety.

Our Top Picks

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn about the various aspects that will impact your choice, it’s time to check out some of the best paint for brick fireplaces. These top picks have been assigned categories relevant to different types of finish, the look you’re going for, and more.

Best Overall

Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces Option: The ONE Paint and Primer: Water Based House Paint
Photo: amazon.com

Given the number of different ways to paint a brick fireplace, and the variety of paints used, it was quite difficult to pick a single best product. The ONE Paint and Primer takes the top spot for its ease of application, rapid drying, and excellent coverage.

Whether it lives up to the claim of providing a single-coat solution will depend on the brick and whether the user wants a fully opaque finish. If so, it’s likely a second coat will be required. That isn’t a fault of the paint, as it performs as well or better than rivals; rather it’s due to brick’s porosity, which acts much like a sponge.

Another thing in favor of The ONE is its multisurface capabilities. It can also be used on wood, potentially making it easier for the decorator to coordinate other aspects of the room.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 250 milliliter, 1 liter (34 fluid ounces)
  • Sheen: Matte, satin, gloss
  • Drying time: 2 hours

Pros

  • Can be used without primer
  • Fast drying
  • Environmentally-friendly formula

Cons

  • On the expensive side


Best Bang For The Buck

Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces Option: valspar
Photo: lowes.com

Promoted as a paint that “stands up to anything,” Valspar Signature provides a tough finish that can withstand everyday scuffs and stains—particularly helpful in a busy household that gets a lot of use out of the fireplace. It is also fade and mildew resistant, so it should stay looking good for longer. This water-based acrylic is not only versatile thanks to the availability of a wide range of colors, but it’s also environmentally-friendly, having achieved GreenGuard certification for low emissions.

Although this paint includes primer, painting fireplace brickwork generally requires additional primer to achieve the desired look. However, Valspar Signature’s wallet-friendly price also allows for using several coats of paint without the need for extra primer—or an extra can of paint.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 1 quart, 1 gallon, 5 gallon
  • Sheen: Flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss
  • Drying Time: 2 hours

Pros

  • Extensive range of colors
  • Scuff, stain, and mildew resistant
  • Great value

Cons

  • If not using additional primer, will require multiple coats


Best Primer

The Best Paint for Brick Fireplace Option: KILZ 2 Interior or Exterior Water-Based Primer
Photo: homedepot.com

A primer coat is usually recommended for painting a brick fireplace because even so-called “one coat” acrylics struggle with the amount of paint brickwork and mortar absorb. Two or more coats are usually required if the goal is to completely cover up the original color.

Applying KILZ 2 primer has a number of benefits. Its high sealing ability means it is very economical, particularly because it enables the use of less expensive standard acrylics as a top coat. The primer also dries in around an hour (twice as fast as most one-coat acrylics), so the job can be completed faster.

KILZ 2 is both stain and mildew resistant. Unlike more expensive primers, it does not contain a mold killer, though this is not usually a problem with painting fireplaces. Due to the rapid drying characteristics, any amount of product left in the can soon becomes unusable, so there is no economy in buying more than needed.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 1 quart, 1 gallon, 3.5 gallon, 5 gallon
  • Sheen: Not applicable
  • Drying Time: 1 hour

Pros

  • Excellent sealing and adhesion properties
  • Rapid drying
  • Terrific value

Cons

  • Hardens quickly once opened
  • Does not prevent mold growth

Best Masonry Paint

Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces Option: behr
Photo: homedepot.com

It’s reasonable to expect that a masonry paint would be the obvious choice for painting a brick fireplace. Oil-based masonry paints have been very effective in the past but contained high VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These are toxic, bad for the environment, and may cause cancer. Not surprisingly, many are banned today.

Low-VOC acrylic-based alternatives like this high-quality masonry paint from Behr are a great alternative. Its high coverage makes it very economical, and it’s available in dozens of colors. However, masonry paint has similar hiding characteristics to ordinary interior latex, so use of a primer is strongly recommended.

So the question might be, why use a masonry paint rather than other acrylics? The answer is durability. Behr masonry paint is water repellant, mildew resistant, and provides a particularly hard-wearing finish that can last up to 20 years.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 1 gallon, 5 gallon
  • Sheen: Flat, satin
  • Drying Time: 4 hours

Pros

  • High coverage
  • Very durable
  • Low VOCs

Cons

  • Comparatively slow drying
  • Need to use with a primer


Best Whitewash

Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces Option: Giani
Photo: amazon.com

Whitewashed brick offers a classic look that complements many decorative styles. This whitewash paint from Giani Brick Transformations is an environmentally-friendly, water-based formula designed for ease of use.

Although at first the product seems fairly expensive, the dense pigmentation of Giani Brick Transformations means it is often diluted 1:1 or 1:2 with water, depending on the desired result.

A primer is not required because it works with the naturally absorbent quality of brick. The recommended technique is to brush paint onto an area of around a half-dozen bricks, then wipe off with a rag to allow some of the natural color to show through. This gives the classic whitewash finish. It is also possible to produce a solid white if the rag stage is omitted, though it may be necessary to apply a second brushed coat.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 16 ounces, 31 ounces
  • Sheen: Not applicable
  • Drying Time: 5 hours

Pros

  • No primer required
  • Easy to use
  • Offers a classic, versatile look

Cons

  • Comparatively slow drying
  • Pricey


Best Chalk Paint

Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces Option: Rust-Oleum
Photo: amazon.com

Chalk paint effects are popular when revitalizing old furniture. The same high-adhesion characteristics that make it usable on many different surfaces also make it appropriate for brick fireplaces. As mentioned previously, the popular German Smear effect can be mimicked using chalk paint, and other decorative effects are also possible. Complete coverage is seldom the goal when using chalk paint, so a primer is usually unnecessary.

The main drawback with chalk paint is that although it adheres readily, it can also wear rapidly. In some situations this won’t be a problem, but if kids are likely to play in the area, an additional sealer coat will need to be applied.

Using Rust-Oleum chalk paint is perhaps not the fastest way to paint a brick fireplace, but it does allow individuals to explore their creativity. Chalk paint can also be used to match wooden furniture and other items to the room’s color scheme.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 30 ounces
  • Sheen: Matte
  • Drying Time: 30 minutes

Pros

  • Ideal for creative effects
  • Very rapid drying
  • Good color range

Cons

  • Achieving the desired effect can be time-consuming
  • Modest durability


Also Consider

Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces Option: HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams
Photo: lowes.com

From leading paint brand Sherwin-Williams, HGTV Home Infinity acrylic paint is well worth considering. It has good environmental credentials, a midrange price, and high coverage, so a little goes a long way. Although intended as a one-coat solution, like most competitors it requires either a primer or multiple coats when used on brick. Given its relatively slow drying time, the former might be preferred.

HGTV Home Infinity provides excellent stain blocking, which helps produce an even finish if the original layer is patchy. It also has antimicrobial properties which combat both mold and mildew. Once fully dry it is very durable and can be used in high-wear areas.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 1 quart, 1 gallon, 5 gallon
  • Sheen: Flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss
  • Drying Time: 4 hours

Pros

  • High coverage
  • Independently GreenGuard certified
  • Good value

Cons

  • Requires primer or multiple coats
  • Slower drying than competitor products


Our Verdict

Thanks to its outstanding coverage, The ONE paint and primer is the best paint for brick fireplace coverage, although it does come at a premium price. Valspar Signature is a quality alternative that costs a great deal less and comes in a wider range of colors, but it needs a primer or additional coats.

How We Chose the Best Paint for Brick Fireplaces

The challenge in selecting the best paint for brick fireplace transformations is that there are a number of different approaches to the task. Some people like the distressed look that is best achieved with chalk paint. Others prefer a whitewashed appearance. Contemporary styles can involve the use of bold, solid colors.

As a result, finding the best fireplace paint requires considering each of these effects. Where possible, these reviews have provided for flexibility in sheen and color. While each paint comes from a premium brand with a long-established reputation for quality, these reviews also take budget into consideration to ensure good value as well as appropriate performance. The result is a selection that will allow every homeowner to achieve their desired result.

FAQs

Despite the comprehensive information provided above, you might still have some questions about how to choose the best paint for a brick fireplace renovation in your home. Read on to see if any of your lingering questions are answered here.

Q. What type of paint is the best for a fireplace?

In most cases the best choice is interior latex paint. These paints are heat resistant to around 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you want effects or whitewash, there are alternatives mentioned above that will help you achieve those with minimal effort.

Q. Can I use regular paint for painting a brick fireplace?

Some regular paint can be used for painting a brick fireplace, but not all types are appropriate. The information above will help you choose the right product.

Q. Do I have to prime my interior bricks before painting?

It depends on the product used and the finish desired. Most paints for interior bricks benefit from a primer, but it’s not always necessary.